UK Power Networks funnels £80m into net-zero projects

The network operator that provides energy to more than 18 million people across London and the South East has launched an £80m fund to support projects that will contribute to the UK's net-zero emissions target for 2050.

UK Power Networks funnels £80m into net-zero projects

All projects will need to demonstrate how they meet both the Government’s net-zero target and the Ten Point Plan

UK Power Networks (UKPN) has launched the programme to kickstart a green recovery across London, the East and South East of England. The company is inviting bids for shovel-ready projects that will help lower emissions in the areas.

Specifically, the funding will support rapid electric vehicle charging stations in local communities, renewable energy connectivity projects and local heat and community energy projects. On heat, UKPN has published a report forecasting that some 450,000 to more than one million domestic electric heat pumps could be installed by 2030 in the UK. 

All projects will need to demonstrate how they meet both the Government’s net-zero target and the Ten Point Plan, with project delivery scheduled for this year and next.

UKPN’s director of strategy and customer service Sul Alli said: “Electricity networks are the front line of enabling net-zero. That’s why we’ve taken this decision to make a significant investment to kickstart the Green Recovery and help get projects that are going to make a real, tangible difference to people’s lives off the drawing board and into development.

“The clock is ticking – in less than a decade there will be 36 times as many electric vehicles connected to our network as there is now, and that’s why we have to take action now. Electricity networks have a vital public role to play in enabling the Net Zero revolution, and it’s a role we are 100% committed to.”

Already, a local community group in Barcombe, East Sussex, is working in collaboration with the network operator and consultancy Buro Happold to create a roadmap on integrating low-carbon heating technologies across communities.

More than 600 households across the village are taking part in the two-year project. Locals will be surveyed about their energy needs and their opinions on low-carbon technologies and policies, before energy meters are fitted in their homes. Buro Happold will use data from the meters to forecast the potential impacts of switching to electric heat.

The £80m funding pot is the latest example of network operators taking proactive steps to engage with communities on the topic of net-zero.

Last year, the distribution network operator (DNO) for the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, Northern Powergrid unveiled a community energy engagement strategy outlining steps to use community-based consumption and power to respond to the climate emergency.

Matt Mace

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